Last week we hosted our How to Create a Fashion Brand Your Customer Loves networking talk, at Work.Life in Camden.
As ever we had a full house and it was fantastic to see so many Business Club members and Start Up Loan recipients there.
Our guest speaker was marketer and serial entrepreneur Christina Richardson, founder of The Nurture Network and weare3sixty.org. Christina coaches both start up and established brands on marketing and also lectures at UCL and for the RCA Incubator.
With so much competition it’s hard for a new brand to get noticed, get your first customer and then build customer loyalty. I was keen to get Christina’s insight on how to tackle this challenge. Below is a summary of what was discussed:-
- Customer Development – it’s very important to understand your target customer, their likes, dislikes and interests. This will help you identify gaps in the market, shape your product range and marketing strategies. If you find any common issues people have within your product category, think about incorporating a solution that meets their needs.
As part of your market research try to interview potential customers – direct interviews are more productive than focus groups. You do need a fair sample to get enough meaningful data. If selling direct to the consumer aim for 100 interviewees. If Business to Business, around 60 is good. Christina also recommended reading ‘The Mom Test’ by Rob Fitzpatrick for guidance on how to interview people to get the best results.
- Branding – to stand out you need a strong visual identity, a clear elevator pitch (your 10 word USP that encapsulates the essence and benefits of the brand) and give ‘personality’ to your brand. This helps create an emotional attachment with your target customer. The brand personality evolves from your core brand values & what the brand stands for, so a good idea to establish these from the start.
- Develop a customer focused marketing strategy – your marketing strategy should have at least 3 clear objectives. This could be raising brand awareness, building your mailing list, generating sales ect. Your marketing activity should then always be aligned with these objectives.
Social media is important, but if time is an issue, just focus on the one or two main platforms that your customers hang out on, and make sure the content is the best it can be. If you post on Instagram make sure you ‘like’ the post from your personal account within an hour. This helps you get seen by more followers.
- Be consistent – once you’ve decided on your visual identity, create brand guidelines which should be shared with your team & suppliers. Your branding must be consistent and be reflected on all public facing touch points. Make sure your social media pages, website and marketing collateral are all in line with the guidelines as consistency helps reinforce the visual messaging.
- Give it time – the consensus is a customer will need to around 8 touch points before they build enough trust to buy from you online – this could be social media posts, a blog, video, PPC advertising, seeing your product at an event or retail space ect. Even if you have a robust marketing strategy and are investing in advertising or influencers, it will take time to test what works and to generate sales.
- Build a community – ideally you’ll start to build awareness as early as possible so you have a ready-made audience to launch to. Create a holding page so when you network or start a blog/vlog you have somewhere to direct people to. You can then collect email addresses to start building your mailing list.
- It’s not all about you – when developing content for your social pages or newsletters think about what will be of interest to your target customer.
It can be difficult to do this, especially if you haven’t launched, but curating beautiful imagery that’s relevant to your brand values, showing behind the scenes images, giving close up of details on samples, all help build brand awareness. It shouldn’t be just about the products you’re selling as that can turn customers off.
- Make a customer feel loved – once you do get a sale, make that customer feel special. Adding hand written thank you notes or little gifts to orders, offering excellent customer service and perhaps offering styling advice, all help to build loyalty. Hopefully they will have such a positive experience they’ll want to buy from you again, and share with their friends.
There were many questions from the audience and everyone took away a huge amount of information. It was our last networking event for 2018 but we’ve got a lot of exciting ones planned for 2019 so watch this space!
By Alison Lewy MBE
Founder, Fashion Angel